Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Thursday said her decision to resign from the Union cabinet to protest three farm sector bills 'symbolises my party's vision, its glorious legacy and its commitment to go to any extent to safeguard the interests of farmers'.
'I am proud that today I am able in my humble way to take that legacy forward,' she said.
In her four-page resignation letter addressed to the prime minister, she said, 'In view of the decision of the government of India to go ahead with the Bill on the issue of marketing of agricultural produce without addressing and removing the apprehensions of farmers and decision of my party, Shiromani Akali Dal, not to be a part of anything that goes against the interest of farmers, I find it impossible to continue to perform my duties as a minister in the union council of ministers.'
Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill.
It has already passed Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. They will replace ordinances promulgated by the Union government.
The SAD leader said that before, during and after the promulgation of the three ordinances, she had tried her best to persuade the cabinet to take the actual stakeholders of this decision, the farmers, on board and remove their apprehensions and concerns.
'All this while, I was given the impression that since an Ordinance is only a temporary arrangement, my concerns and pleas would be addressed while legislating on the issue in the Parliament.
'But I write it with a very heavy heart that despite my persistent pleas as well as repeated efforts of my party, SAD, in this regard, the government has not taken the farmers on board,' she wrote.
'The trust farmers place in us is sacred to us,' she said.
'My decision symbolises my party's vision, its glorious legacy and its commitment to go to any extent to safeguard the interests of the farmers,' she said.
Kaur said her decision to resign was guided by the 'iconic legacy' of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for fighting to defend national interests, be it against the Emergency or for the establishment of a federal structure in the country as well as preserving external security or food security.
She said that her party always followed the 'great Guru Sahiban' who taught them never to compromise on one's principles and to stand up for what one strongly believes to be right.
'That is precisely what I am doing today,' the parliamentarian from Punjab's Bathinda said.
Kaur, who held the food processing industries portfolio, said, 'I and my party are deeply pained that we were not able to persuade the government to refer the Bills governing the marketing of farmers produce to a select committee.'
She, however, expressed satisfaction that she was able to live up to the expectations of the people who have placed their complete trust in her.
Describing her tenure as minister as 'a remarkable and most memorable period of my life', she said she was satisfied that the National Democratic Alliance-led government delivered on many critical and long-standing issues of the Sikh community, including justice for 1984 riots victims.
She also recounted Goods and Services Tax waiver on 'langar', permission granted to foreign donations to the Darbar Sahib as major achievements.
'But the most memorable moment for me and for every devout Sikh came with the historic opening of Kartarpur Sahib corridor for which the Sikhs had been praying in their daily ardas for three quarters of a century,' she said.
She also recalled the three-decades-old alliance formed by Parkash Singh Badal and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
She said she was confident that the SAD-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance would continue to work together to maintain the hard earned atmosphere of peace and communal harmony in Punjab.
Talking to the media later, she said she did not consider her step as any 'sacrifice' but just a natural and normal course for any proud Akali wedded to the 'Panthic' values and to the cause of the farmers.
'The real sacrifices are made by the farmers themselves. I am just standing by them as their daughter and sister,' she said.
She said she has requested the prime minister to accept her resignation 'with immediate effect'.
'I have resigned from Union Cabinet in protest against anti-farmer ordinances and legislation. Proud to stand with farmers as their daughter & sister,' she tweeted.